Yep. We had an earthquake yesterday. A 5.8, epicenter 25 miles from here. It happened. It’s true that, in the moment, it was rather disconcerting. I mean, the mountains of Virginia? We’re used to the occasional nasty thunderstorm, maybe a stray tornado once a year or so, but largely? We don’t get so many natural disasters. We’re too far from the ocean for hurricanes to matter much. It floods sometimes, but the last time there was a really horrid flood here, I was 8. It gets dry, sometimes even so dry that people are asked not to water their lawns or wash their cars, but never a truly and horribly devastating drought. Definitely no volcanoes, and our “blizzards” top out around 2 feet at their absolute maximum – and that only happens every 5 years or so (rarely do we get more than 2 inches of snow). As far as disasters go, the most extreme are usually heat and humidity. But today we had an earthquake.
We had another one about 8 years ago. It was smaller than this one. I worked in an office at the time that backed up to the railroad tracks, and I thought it was just a train going by that time, until my roommate called to see if I had felt that too. It was kind of weird then, but we all just went about our days. This time was much more dramatic – lots of shaking, things falling off shelves, pictures teetering on the walls – for a good 15 to 20 seconds, at least. Twitter exploded. People apparently evacuated buildings and freaked right the hell out. My office? We all talked about it for a bit, made sure loved ones were safe, and then…went back to work. We had a tiny aftershock shortly after the big one, and then a more significant aftershock this evening when I was at home. (I say more significant, but really…Dave and I were sitting on the couch together, less than 2 feet between us, and I felt it while he didn’t. So, not a big deal.) And then apparently another during the night that we both totally slept through.
My favorite part of all this has honestly been the little stories people have told about their thoughts on it. Tiny tidbits like this:
- One friend works in City Hall, a building called “the bomb shelter” by its employees (and frankly, it may actually have a bomb shelter in it, not sure). She works in an interior office with no windows, was in the bathroom at the time the quake happened, and felt nothing. She thought people were pulling a practical joke on her when she came out and they were talking about the earthquake.
- One friend was driving when it happened, and she felt nothing.
- One friend thought it was a train going by her house, and Dave (who works from home) thought it was a low-flying helicopter at first. Several in my office thought, for just a second, that they were doing construction in the office beneath ours again.
- My niece started 3rd grade on Monday – she lost a front tooth right before school that morning. She said to my mom yesterday, “I lost a tooth on the first day of school, and we had an earthquake on the second day of school – what’s going to happen tomorrow?!”
It was definitely an interesting occurrence, but now, everyone’s still tweeting and Facebooking about it all…and apparently lots of people are still terrified. Still talking about it. Worried about more aftershocks to come. And yeah, it’s weird, not normal for us, but…was it really that big of a deal? Some buildings suffered a little damage, but as far as I’ve heard, no one was seriously hurt at all. And the 2 aftershocks we’ve had have not been troublesome. Why is everyone so very, very freaked out by this? It was exciting and weird, yes, but so far, I have no evidence to convince me to panic. You can pretty much count on me sleeping soundly through the coming nights.